I've had some very meaningful encounters these couple of last days. I've spoken to friends who are going through very different phases in their lives, and all of them have touched my heart in a way or another.

I just finished a phone call with a friend who lost her daughter to brain cancer last week. She was eleven years old and had battled the ****ing disease since she was five. I've sat on the bed side and have watched helplessly the most important person in my life losing the same battle. But it must be very different to lose one's child compared to a parent - it's even more unfair and unnatural. There weren't many things I could say to her (not many words are needed, that I also know from my experience). I said what I could. And my heart goes out to her and her family for now they need to build up a life very different to the one they've known so far. It is a hard hard work, this building up thing. Heavens, do I hate death!

Earlier today I had a long conversation with another friend who is also going through a massive change in his life. He's a guy who has been sort of married to singleness for a long time. And it was a life, a reality he had gotten used to. I think there was some resignation from his part because frankly, he isn't that young any more. And now, totally unexpectedly, this amazing young woman has appeared out of nowhere and he's so in love and she's in love and the funniest part is that he's totally confused... About his future and work and possible marriage and his future studies (we'd been talking about PhD studies for quite some years now, encouraging each other to get started). We have never been close friends but for some reason he felt he wanted to talk to me about it, so we talked today. I'm so happy for him. And the best advice I could come up with came straight from the garden of Eden lol! - it is not good for a man to be alone. (I should know)

Yet another friend called me last week and appeared on my doorstep. She has tried to get going with her PhD studies twice and it just doesn't seem to work out for her. The uncertainty and anxiety has lasted for so long that she seems to be battling depression now. She's the kind of girl who never complains so I was very surprised when she landed on my sofa and pretty much broke down. I think her work and her studies have become the basis of her identity and now that things are shifting and shaking and crumbling, she's not quite sure who she is any longer. I prayed with her, it wasn't much but it seemed to be all I could do to her at that moment.  

Last week on a bus on my way back home from a small group gathering I happened to sit next to a shy teenage girl from that group as we were going to the same direction. I had seen her in the church for a couple of times but we had never properly talked. And now she was like, Oh, I'm so glad we get to sit on the bus together for a half an hour because there's something I want to talk to you about - I really want to get baptised. I looked in her eyes and saw the thing, the joy and excitement and longing that can only come from discovering Jesus. It was so clear she had been surprised - or maybe hit - by this joy and peace unknown to this world. A high school kid, wanting nothing more and nothing less than a life with Jesus... It must have been the happiest bus ride in my life. Or maybe in both of our lives.

And carrying all these experiences and encounters with me, all I can think of is Frederick Buechner's quote, Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid. 


I have this friend. Her name is A. and we have known each other for more than ten years now. It so happened that we started studying the same thing - linguistics - in Tartu uni, two rather shy just-out-of-highschool girls. She says it was her who came and sat next to me in a Latin class one day. I myself have forgotten how the friendship took off.

But off it took, as unexpected as it might have seemed. We were different, she liked piercings and leather boots and mini skirts, I, uhmm, didn't. I came from a family as Christian as they can get, she came from a completely religion free background. But a bond was formed and over the years it only grew stronger. I remember standing on a particular street corner for endless hours after our classes, chatting about life (we used to joke that one day when both of us were be A-listers someone from the city council would decide to put a nice plate on the wall of that house in front of which we always talked, saying that right here on this spot A. and M. would always have their post-class conversations). We mostly discussed her life as she managed to make hers terribly complicated and I never seemed to be able to make mine complicated enough (or complicated enough to be worth mentioning). But we also had many things in common, not the least of which was the ability and willingness to study hard. When we both earned distinction for our MA degree, we were happy and proud. The professors referred to us as the top of the crop, and occasionally took us more seriously than some other students. We were young and beautiful, but what's more, life was young and beautiful.

But then. I remember how terrified I was when I first called her after her father had died of a sudden heart attack for I knew not what to say. And I remember that hers was the only phone call I accepted the day my mum died, the rest I ignored. I remember so clearly how she cried on the other end of the line and how I didn't, because I was in a state of shock. Life was no longer young.

She did what was expected of both of us - she continued her studies right after we graduated while I abandoned the ship and the career that was waiting for me. As I moved to England, we saw each other a lot less than we had used to. But every time I went to Tartu I tried to catch her and have lunch together with her. And in this respect, nothing has changed - I still call her each time I'm there. We have swapped the street corner for more comfortable cafe sofas but the hours fly by just as fast as they used to back in out street corner days.

And today I received a nice big package from the mailman. It was a signed copy of her doctoral dissertation, straight from the press. I was so happy for her and her accomplishment. And then I opened it and read the the ending bit of her preface:

I might have shed a tear.

Congratulations, A., my dearest friend!